The Department of History at Armfield Academy strives for a knowledge-rich curriculum that is a sequenced and challenging narrative, empowering students to build mental timelines, or schemata, of the past. Students will study selected chapters from British and world history, including depth and breadth studies to allow the macro-level narrative of the curriculum to be enhanced by micro-level experiences, individuals and case studies. In addition, the generally chronological nature of the curriculum should enable students to apply a range of substantive and disciplinary knowledge and concepts in a variety of different historical contexts and, in doing so, know more and remember more.
The curriculum is structured upon historically valid enquiry questions (the word history originates from the Greek historia, meaning enquiry) that organise historical knowledge and enable students to develop substantive and disciplinary knowledge simultaneously. Students will develop disciplinary knowledge of concepts such as change and continuity, cause and consequence, significance, similarity and difference, using evidence and the construction of interpretations. Students should also be given the opportunity to engage with historical scholarship (both underlying and visible within enquiries) to understand the process of constructing, debating and reshaping history and the central role of historians in this process of investigation. Through this process, students will understand that history is not simply a list of pre-agreed and universally accepted facts, dates or names; it is an active and ongoing process of investigation and discovery, akin to piecing together a never-ending jigsaw.
In order to further achieve an inclusive, ambitious and academic curriculum, where all students are challenged to be the very best that they can be, disciplinary literacy will be prioritised at all times. Students will be actively challenged to encounter, grapple with and understand complex lexical choices with a specific focus on tier two and tier three vocabulary. Students will be challenged to develop their capacity to “communicate like historians” and this will be supported through explicit vocabulary instruction and strategies to develop word consciousness within our students and their learning. In addition, students will be exposed to rich, challenging and academic texts and view reading as an inherent part of their success in history. Finally, all staff are committed to prioritising the ability of students to construct sophisticated, coherent and balanced written responses, developing the ability to communicate clearly and effectively, whilst prioritising, categorising and organising their knowledge. To this end, the curriculum aims to equip students with the necessary knowledge (both substantive and disciplinary), language and schemata required to contextualise their studies and prepare for the rigour of GCSE history and further study.
EYFS: In EYFS, enquiry questions will challenge students to develop a greater understanding of living memory, by considering the chronology of their lifetime and changes and developments within their own experiences. In this way, students will begin to build a fundamental understanding of time, change and continuity.
KS1: In Key Stage 1, students will begin to broaden the scope of their understanding by focusing on the idea of events within living memory, whilst they will also be introduced to the disciplinary concept of significance and apply this to individuals and an identified event – the Great Fire of London. Students will begin to comprehend what it means to be significant, the criteria that can be used to judge significance and how this significance can evolve over time. As such, the curriculum will begin to push students beyond their everyday experience.
KS2: In Key Stage 2, students will encounter a curriculum that is sequential and chronological in nature, beginning with the Stone Age and moving through a range of time periods to ensure that students build mental timelines of the past relating to Britain and the wider world and study a wide range of historical places and societies. In doing so, students will also develop a sense of short-term and long-term developments. Over time, students will gain historical perspective by constructing schemata and applying knowing to different contexts and building an understanding of the connections between local, regional, national and global history.
KS3: In Key Stage 3, students will encounter a curriculum that is a challenging narrative that layers understanding and knowledge over time. In this way, the curriculum is the progression model, as students will be empowered to develop powerful knowledge and know more and remember more over time. Students will also begin to recognise the moral responsibility of exploring the richness and diversity of the past, as well as the necessity of confronting the enduring legacies of a range of historical events from a variety of different perspectives and experiences. Furthermore, the chronological nature of the curriculum lends itself to the effective interweaving of substantive knowledge and concepts. For example, students will first encounter the concept of a hierarchy when studying the Feudal System, before revisiting this concept when studying the Medieval Church, the Victorian Class System or the Weimar Constitution, for example.
KS4: In Key Stage 4, students are able to opt for GCSE history (the course code is 8145 GC). Students will study different aspects of the past and engage with key issues such as conflict, understand what drives change and how the past influences the present as part of an inter-connected narrative of human history. The course strikes a balance between British and world history and is divided into the following four topics:
- One Period Study (Germany 1890-1945, Democracy to Dictatorship).
- One Thematic Study (Britain: Health & the People c. 1000 – the Present Day).
- One Wider World Depth Study (Conflict & Tension: The Inter-War Years, 1918-1945).
- One British Depth Study (Elizabethan England c.1568-1603).
Statistically, history is the most flexible qualification available. Employers value the research, analytical, teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills that history students develop. Students who engage fully with the knowledge-rich history curriculum available at Armfield Academy could move on to a wide and diverse range of further courses, qualifications and future employment opportunities. Finally, students will be provided with meaningful extra-curricular opportunities to enhance knowledge beyond the confines of the classroom. For example, the department endeavours to organise a Year 8 visit to the Battlefields of Belgium and a Year 11 visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, in conjunction with the Department of Religious Education.